Cyclist Kristin Armstrong ventured to Beijing last December and rode the time trial course for her event wearing a GPS unit in order to track the course elevation metrics for training purposes. She then returned to the states and mapped the GPS data using several different technologies, including Google Earth. Then she went back to China and won the time trial in a stirring race that might have been on TV if not for NBC’s 4-hour block of Olympic Bouncing Sexy Asses.
On a Google blog, Armstrong describes how this process helped her train for the event:
I was then able to trace the entire course from the comfort of my home half a world away and find a similar route to train on back in Boise. This capability along with having the elevation profile proved invaluable in my preparation for my Gold Medal race. It was also very nice to be able to show family members and friends the course from the excellent satellite views presented by Google Earth.
By coincidence, last night I used Google Earth to show my friends and family where I trained to be an astronaut. The resolution wasn’t sharp enough to see all the details, but I know an abandoned refrigerator when I see one.